Arthritis can be one of the most debilitating foot and ankle conditions. Arthritis isn’t actually one condition, but an umbrella term for a range of conditions affecting the joints. There are more than 100 forms of arthritis, but the most common is osteoarthritis, which effects an estimated 31 million people in the US.
Arthritis can affect any joint in the body, and the feet and ankles are no exception. In fact, as they are the joints that have the most responsibility for carrying us around, arthritic pain in the feet and ankles can be the most disabling of all.
Arthritis is a challenging condition to treat
Since there are a diverse range of causes and contributing factors to arthritis, and because arthritis is usually a degenerative condition that has no cure, it can be tough to manage.
With the coldest blast in years affecting the midwest, you may find that the brutal Wisconsin winter is causing your arthritis symptoms to become more troublesome than usual.
Many of our patients claim to be able to predict the weather based on their joints, and though the medical jury is still out as to whether the climate really does impact on arthritis pain, we know for certain that winter has a negative impact on pain levels. Whether this is a change in climate, barometric pressure, or factors like reduction in physical activity, your arthritis needs extra care during the winter months.
As experts in foot and ankle arthritis care, Dr Tikalsky and his team at Family Foot and Ankle Clinic are highly experienced in a range of methods for controlling and improving arthritis symptoms. Our top advice for managing arthritis pain is outlined below:
It is important to keep your joints mobile, and the muscles around them strong and supple. Stiffness leads to more pain and disability. Walking, cycling, gardening, and outdoor sports may lose their appeal during the winter, but there are plenty of indoor activities that can keep you moving. Swimming and aqua aerobics, yoga, and pilates are all excellent low-impact exercises for arthritis sufferers.
2. Don’t overdo it
As important as physical activity is, it’s crucial that you know your limits and avoid exercises that stress your joints. High impact activities like distance running or high energy aerobics classes may do more harm than good, but the best gauge of whether you are pushing too hard is your body – listen to it.
3. Seek physical therapy
Physical therapy provides a directed, professional approach toward strengthening your muscles and loosening your joints. Dr. Tikalsky and his team provide a custom program of exercise and manipulation to all patients who would benefit from it.
4. Reach and maintain a healthy weight
The joints of your feet and ankles have a lot of work to do in carrying you around. This job is made more stressful with every extra pound of bodyweight relative to frame size. Maintaining a healthy weight can be tricky when your activity levels are reduced through pain and disability, and it can become a vicious circle as weight gain leads to more pain and less activity and then more weight gain. Weight loss is one of the best pain management tools at your disposal.
5. Wear orthotics
The joint inflammation of arthritis can result in foot deformities and tender areas that are sensitive to pressure. Dr. Tikalsky and his team can provide you with custom orthotic insoles or shoes that can help support and protect the joints of your feet and provide relief from arthritis pain.
6. Take medication
Taking regular pain relief medication is an important aspect of self care. Analgesics can be prescribed to reduce pain, but because arthritis is an inflammatory condition, it can be more effective to use anti-inflammatory medications. Non-steroidal anti inflammatories are widely available, and Dr. Tikalsky may use steroid injections in his office to manage your arthritis pain and swelling.
7. Consider surgery
If your arthritis pain is moderate to severe, you may benefit from arthroscopic surgery on your affected joints. Dr. Tikalsky removes loose cartilage, damaged tissue, and bone spurs from the joint to slow down the progression of the disease and reduce symptoms.
Find out how Family Foot and Ankle Clinic can help
Dr. Tikalsky and the team are available to assess how we can best treat your arthritis at any one of our 8 Wisconsin locations. Call our office to check our availability and get on the road to reducing your pain today.